The title theme of Legend of Mana, Song of Mana, was performed by the Swedish artist Annika Ljungberg. What most don’t know is that she is a member of a band called Rednex. They were big in the 90’s and their most famous song was Cotton Eye Joe. The band is still active even after 26 years.
Song of Mana got an arranged version in the Legend of Mana Arrangement Album – Promise-, but sadly the new singer wasn’t Swedish so there were a lot of mispronunciations of the Swedish words.
Aftonbladet, one of Sweden’s largest newspapers, had an interview with Annika Ljungberg in 2014. In the interview she explained how she was contacted by Yoko Shimomura and her experience of singing the title theme song for the game.
Below is translated text by me, Deques.
One day she was suddenly contacted by the world famous composer Yoko Shimomura.
It has been 15 years since Rednex-star Annika Ljungberg recorded the now legendary theme song to the Japanese game “Legend of Mana”, which was never released in Sweden.
– “It was the most exciting moment I had in a studio in my 20-year career”, she said to Nöjesbladet’s Spela-pod
The year was 1998. Yoko Shimomura had completed the music to the fantasy RPG “Legend of Mana”, an epic soundtrack that she today still considers her most personal and favorite soundtrack. But something was missing: A [title] song.
Shimomura decided that the song was not going to be performed by a well-known artist, not even in the Japanese language. For some reason she found the Rednex-star, Annika, who recently appeared in the TV-series Baywatch. David Hasselhoff hand picked three of her songs from her album “Me & Myself”. Shimomura was breath taken and took a flight to Stockholm.
Annika Ljungbergs tells the story:
“I was contacted by her management team. She had heard my samples and thought that it was exactly that she was looking for. The text was translated by a girl in Sweden who didn’t know how the rhythm would be applied to the melody. It was not a walk in the park. A lot of gray hairs here and there, and it was a technical challenge to make it work. I had no experience in games so I was a novice.”
“I was told that it was the game that she was most artistically satisfied with. She did a great job with the whole soundtrack. We spoke in the same language, artistically, and she was very humble.”
Did they ever explain why the song was to performed in Swedish? – “No, it was a question mark for me. We had a tight schedule when they flew to Stockholm. I was in an open studio, not a booth. They wanted to use body language to communicate, because we didn’t fully understand each other all the time.”
Have you played the game? – “It was the first time that I played a Play Station game. It was an exciting game. It was an experience that I will never forget. This was one the most exciting moments that I had in a studio in my 20-year carrier.”